More Flu Cases in Southern Tier

By Callan Gray

January 8, 2013 Updated Jan 8, 2013 at 12:14 PM EDT

Owego, NY (WBNG) The influenza virus continues to spread across the country and Twin Tiers.

The New York State Health Department said last week the number of patients diagnosed with the flu rose 46 percent.

This year there have been 417 confirmed cases of the flu in Broome County.

The Tioga County Health Department says flu season is far from over.

Tioga County residents are taking the warning and getting their vaccines.

Three people got the shot in less than an hour Monday at the Owego Pharmacy.

Ed Hart has been getting flu shots for 10 years.

"I always get one every year, I am just a little late this year cause I was sick when my wife went and got hers," said Hart, Owego.

Hart stopped by the Owego Pharmacy for the flu shot.

Pharmacy owner John Gatto said his store has done more vaccinations than expected.

"It's been very busy today," said Gatto. "I've had a lot of calls. It's about 1:30 p.m. in the afternoon and I've done about five or six flu shots today and had a couple other people call."

Gatto has also seen a rise in non-prescription drugs related to flu symptoms.

"I had done estimations based on where I had worked previously and what my over the counter, OTC, sales would be for cough and cold symptoms and I am higher than expected," said Gatto.

The Tioga County Health Department said the average person can treat their symptoms.

But they say if you have another condition, it is important to see a doctor and be tested for the flu.

"Someone who has another illness such as diabetes or upper respiratory condition, it's more important they actually see a doctor right away," said Rebecca Lewis, Tioga County Health Department.

Lewis says the best way to stay healthy is to get the vaccine.

A philosophy Hart agrees with.

"I don't know if it works or not but so far I haven't gotten the flu so I keep getting them," said Hart.

The Tioga Health Department said this year's vaccine is a good match to the most common strain of the flu.

This year Tioga residents under 50 years old can choose between a shot and a nasal spray.

The Tioga County Health Department says over 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year from the flu.

They say peak flu season will last until February but any one could catch the virus as late as May.

The Health Department said it is not too late to get the vaccine.

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